jamie goode's wine blog

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Fino and Manzanilla...must drink more of it

Popped a bottle of Hidalgo's Manzanilla La Gitana in the fridge earlier on, and now I'm sipping it, accompanied by a hunk of bread, some Manchego cheese and a few slices of chorizo. It's a lovely food accompaniment, and I wonder why I don't drink more of it.

It's quite rich textured, with some appley, nutty (acetaldehyde) notes countering the bracing, almost salty freshness. It's 15% alcohol, which isn't much more than many table wines, but it does give some warmth and texture to the otherwise super-fresh palate. I don't know if I could serve this at a dinner party with non-wine geeks, but I do wonder why more people don't use Fino or Manzanilla at table more, especially when you get a really interesting wine for 8 (Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose, Whole Foods).

I'm comparing it with another similarly styled wine, M. Fina from Gonzalez Palacios. It's from Lebrija, a town located between Jerez and Sevilla, an it's made with flor like Fino and Manzanilla. It's nuttier and perhaps saltier than the La Gitana, with a bit more depth, but less of the zingy freshness. It has lots of that nutty, appley acetaldehyde character, and is highly food compatible. Yours for 6.95/half from Warren Edwardes' new venture www.stickywines.co.uk. Whether you prefer this or the more edgy La Gitana is probably a matter of taste. Warren sent this interesting nugget about Lebrija:
'Grapes from Lebrija are permitted to be used to produce Sherry and Manzanilla in Jerez and Sanlucar in the DO Jerez-Manzanilla. But vinification of the grapes in Lebrija is not permited to be designated as DO Jerez-Manzanilla. So Bodegas Gonzalez Palacios have demonstarted the quality of their wines to the Andalucian Government and have finally secured their own Quality Region with a view to moving on to a single estate Pago. Arguably Lebrija is more suitable than coastal Sanlucar de Barrameda for the production of "Manzanilla". The hill-top location of the Gonzalez Palacios bodega outside Lebrija along with its coastal aspect ensures a lower temperature not only than Jerez but also Sanlucar de Barrameda so comfortably ensuring a year round flor cover that leads to the sea-salty taste remniscent of "Manzanilla" - only more so. But DO Manzanilla ensured through the courts that wines produced by Gonzalez Palacios in Lebrija cannot be called "Manzanilla Fina". Hence M. Fina or Flor de Lebrija.'

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tio Pepe: a legend

I've just finished writing a commission on Sherry, so I thought it would be appropriate to open some. The bottle I chose is one of the most famous of Sherry brands, Tio Pepe from Gonzalez Byas. It's a fino - a wine made from the main sherry grape, Palomino Fino, that has been aged in cask under a protective layer of yeasts, the flor. This protects the wine from oxygen and contributes a distinctive nutty, appley, yeasty flavour to what would otherwise be a fairly neutral wine. Fortification to 15% adds body to the palate.

The result is a remarkable food-friendly wine that's tangy, fresh and salty. It's quite strongly flavoured: as well as being fresh and precise, there's a depth of flavour that makes this the sort of wine that needs a receptive audience. I think it would work brilliantly with a range of foods, but it's something I'd have to think carefully about serving to dinner party guests, because fino sherry is a bit of an acquired taste.

I love it, and it's something I reckon we should drink more of - along with the other styles of sherry such as amontillado and oloroso. The good news is that it is pretty affordable, too (this is around 8 a 75 cl bottle, and there are cheaper alternatives that are also good). As an aside, it's really good news that as one of the most visible brands of fino, Tio Pepe is such a good quality wine. Remember: the key to fino is buying the freshest bottle you can get your hands on, and then drinking it up within a couple of days of opening. Pictured are Tio Pepe adverts from 1966 (top) and 1975 (below).

Labels: , ,